Despite the end of the Iraq war and the scheduled drawdown inAfghanistan, this Memorial Day arrives against a backdrop ofdeepening — and some say more troublesome — antiwar sentimentamong military veterans. One of the most vivid and replayed images of protesters at the NATOsummit last weekend in Chicago was a group of some 40 vets lined upto toss their war medals over the chain link fence to protest whatformer naval officer Leah Bolger calls the illegal wars of bothNATO and America. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 33 percent ofpost-9/11 veterans say that neither the war in Iraq nor inAfghanistan were worth the cost, and this among a highlymotivated cohort who chose to serve. What this means, says retired US Army Col. Ann Wright, who resignedfrom a State Department post in 2006 over US policies in Iraq, isthat there is a widening gap between the government, militarypolicies, and the soldiers that carry them out.
Military personnel know America will always have a military, butthere is growing concern over the way it is being used, says the29-year veteran, adding that an increasing list of concerns include the use of torture, illegal detentions, and both soldiers and thepublic being lied to about the actual reasons for going intocombat. But in contrast to the extremely vocal and visible antiwarmovements of the Vietnam War era, many veterans in theall-volunteer military have found it harder to mobilize effectiveactions, says Cameron White, a former Marine who served two toursin Iraq before joining Iraq Veterans Against the War. The 32-year-old Pasadena City college student, who enlisted in2000, says it s harder to speak to fellow soldiers about theirdecision to join, as the onus is on us because we chose this. Many of the post-9/11 veterans who have served in what is nowAmerican s longest-running military action, find that pressuresthat can fuel antiwar sentiment have ratcheted up with theall-volunteer army.
According to the Pew study, only some one half of one percent ofAmericans have served in the military in the past decade, thelowest rate in history. Even as an unprecedented number ofAmericans some 80 percent are therefore sheltered from thewar s hardships because none of their relatives are serving, thepressures of military service have increased. In order to meet troop level requirements, many soldiers have beendeployed as many as six times a level unheard of prior to theall-volunteer military, points out Mike Hanie, an Air Force veteranand founder and executive director of the Institute for Veteransand Military Families at Syracuse University. This growing antiwar sentiment within the veteran community, hesays, is easily traced to the fact that the men and women whohave served are returning home to communities where they feel thattheir service doesn t matter. The veterans families, friends, neighbors, and colleagues donot understand, or seem to care about our all-volunteer militaryand the sacrifices they have made defending our freedom, he adds. Vacuum Packaging Bags
Veterans returning to normal life are facing struggles that includeuncertainty about possible redeployments, cutbacks in benefits, andan economy in recession. This has led to many troublesome results,including a suicide rate among post 9/11 veterans of some 18veterans per day, says Dr. Harry Croft, a former Army doctor and apsychiatrist who has evaluated more than 7,000 veterans forcombat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and is authorof the book I Always Sit With My Back to The Wall. It s not clear anymore what the end result is of these wars, he says, adding that in Iraq, for example, US troops are gone, butmany vets wonder what happens now. Retort Pouch
We got rid of Saddam Hussein and put a democratic government inplace, but the enemy still hasn t gone away, he notes. Inaddition, he says, many vets feel that we were told before the warin Iraq that oil money was going to pay for the war, which ofcourse didn t happen. Afghanistan is even murkier, says Dr. Croft. Spout Pouch
Our troops are overthere risking their lives and the Afghan people and governmentdon t even like us, he says, adding our troops are facingsuicide bombers and IEDs knowing that today might be their lastday, but for what?.